Golden Hello for Aintree's safer track

Twiston-Davies' Hello Bud lands Becher on first test for new-look chase course before Grand National

The rousing reception given to the splendid veteran Hello Bud, the winner of his second Becher Chase at the age of 14, notwithstanding, the most significant sound at Aintree yesterday was probably sighs of relief. The first two races run over the track's signature obstacles – the Becher and the Grand Sefton Chases – since April's ill-starred Grand National passed off without any more than routine incident.

After Synchronised and According To Pete suffered fatal injuries in separate freak accidents in the National, the course underwent several modifications, including softening the core of some fences and further levelling of landing areas. Of course, a couple of relatively small fields competing round one circuit in heavy ground bears little relationship to the cavalry charge of the National, and the real test will come in the spring, when eyes focus once again on the world's most famous steeplechase.

The consensus, though, was that the latest tinkering with the jumps was a success. "They rode great and are well-presented," said senior rider Robert Thornton, who finished third on Tranquil Sea in the Grand Sefton. Seven horses fell or lost their riders in the two chases but happily all were safely tucked up in their boxes last night.

And there could hardly have been a more serendipitous advertisement for the thrill of Aintree's unique challenge than yesterday's results. Two races after Hello Bud rolled back the years around his favourite course, his stablemate Little Josh took the Grand Sefton and in the process put trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies into the record books as the first to saddle winners of all five races run over the National fences: the National itself, the Topham, Foxhunters, Becher and Grand Sefton Chases. "Just incredible," he said. "But Aintree is what the jumping game is all about."

Both yesterday's heroes were ridden by Twiston-Davies's 20-year-old son Sam, who had instigated a treble for the Naunton yard on hurdler Master Of The Sea and who particularly worships Hello Bud. In seven tries over the National fences, the gallant old gelding has now jumped round five times, including fifth and seventh places in the National as well as his two Becher Chase wins, this one coming two years after the first. "This horse is an absolute legend," said Twiston-Davies Jnr. "He just loves this place, jumps for fun and is a lot cleverer than me."

Hello Bud, as usual, blazed most of the trail, holding on by a neck at the line from the fast-finishing Join Together. "I just set him at a gallop that I thought he could maintain," added Twiston-Davies. "He just kept going and grinding, getting over the fences as economically as he could. The last half-furlong seemed to take forever and I could hear them coming at us. He was out on his head, but I cannot tell you just how big his heart is."

If age had its day at Aintree, youth shone brightly at Sandown, in the form of the breathtaking two-mile talent of Sprinter Sacre. Last season's best novice made a most glorious start to his senior campaign, barely coming out of third gear to take the Tingle Creek Chase by 15 lengths. The horse is now a 1-2 shot for the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, with the Victor Chandler Chase his only target before then.

Yesterday's Grade One contest had been billed as a showdown between the six-year-old, one of five winners on the day for Nicky Henderson, and his contemporary Sanctuaire, one of the rising stars from the Paul Nicholls yard, but seldom can a match have been so one-sided. As early as the second fence, the two big black geldings had drawn away, and Sanctuaire took an eight-length advantage down the back straight.

But before the home straight Sprinter Sacre, the 4-11 favourite, had cruised insolently and effortlessly up to and past his rival under Barry Geraghty, and after a showboating leap at the last cantered home in glorious isolation without appearing to break sweat.

Geraghty knows what a top-class two-mile chaser feels like, having previously won two Tingle Creeks on Moscow Flyer. "This is the closest I have felt to him and he could not be better," said Geraghty. "I have never felt a horse who travels and jumps with such absolute ease."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
News
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
arts + entsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker